The Arizona Cardinals have a big year ahead of them in 2013. Over the past three seasons, they have a combined record of 18-30 and there are not many people taking them seriously.
This team has most of the pieces to the puzzle, but it needs another couple of pieces as well as someone to put them all together.
After a hot start to 2012, several injuries depleted an overachieving Cardinals squad. The last three months of the season were extremely tough to watch as it played some of the worst football I have seen in recent memory.
Arizona has several players returning from injury next year, and it will have all of its picks, including the seventh overall selection in April’s draft.
There is a lot of pressure on the front office to make a few moves this offseason, but it is important that they focus on bringing in the right players rather than going with what the fans want.
With several areas to address, there is a lot of room for success. On the flip side, there is also a lot of room for error.
Here are three moves that will make or break the Arizona Cardinals in 2013.
First and foremost, the Cardinals will have to assemble a coaching staff. They cleaned house at the end of the regular season, firing Rod Graves and Ken Whisenhunt among others.
Ray Horton is one of the only coaches still with the team and has been interviewed for the head-coaching position.
In addition to the head-coaching vacancy, Arizona is also in need of an offensive coordinator and an offensive line coach.
Of the seven first-year coaches in the NFL this year, several of them did quite well. Others, however, did not make much improvement and even took their team a step back in some cases.
Michael Bidwill and company have a big decision to make. Picking the right coach is not as easy as it seems and the wrong choice could set this franchise back another few years.
When Kevin Kolb went down with an injury in Week 6, the switch on the quarterback carousel flicked on and the final 10 games for Arizona were a nightmare.
Between John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer, they mustered just 2,214 passing yards and three touchdowns while throwing 18 interceptions.
Whether it is insurance behind Kolb or someone to take over as the starter, the Cardinals are in desperate need of a quarterback this offseason.
With that being said there are several players they just should not target and similar to the coaching situation, could set them back a few years.
Names like Matt Barkley, Geno Smith and Tyler Wilson have all been brought up as names to watch for Arizona.
Although these are not there only options, fans are running out of patience, and it would not surprise me if they spent an early draft pick on one of these men.
This is another tough decision for the front office to make. Picking the right guy could propel them into playoff contention, but the wrong choice will result in another subpar year.
Solving the Offensive Line
There is no nice way of putting it––the Cardinals' offensive line has been a joke the past few seasons.
When Kurt Warner was under center he masked a lot of poor play up front, but it was displayed rather quickly once he retired.
Arizona has been at the bottom of the league in sacks allowed over the past couple of years and that did not change in 2012.
Despite this, a couple of players stepped up and the line was looking much better as the season progressed.
With Levi Brown returning from injury, they have plenty of options when it comes free agency and the draft.
Some people consider left tackle Luke Joeckel the best prospect in the draft this year and there are also several big name linemen in free agency.
The options are endless for Arizona in terms of how to address the offensive line. With that said, spending too much in free agency or using a high draft pick on someone up front may take away from other needs that the Cardinals have.